Register for our February – April Meat CSA: Deadline is February 20th

WE Farm Goodness

WE Farm Goodness

WE Farm is now accepting reservations for our February – April Meat CSA program.  In this 3-month session you can choose to get monthly deliveries of our grass-fed beef, rangeland pork, or pastured chicken.

Registration is a breeze using our ONLINE SIGN-UP FORM, and it only takes minutes.

When registering, you may choose which type of share(s) you desire, while also having the opportunity to select those cuts and sausage spice blends you prefer most.  Our share options are designed to fit most any eating style or budget, and allow us to use the entirety of our wonderful livestock.

Share offerings are limited, so please do sign-up if you wish to have WE Farm meat at home in your kitchen.

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Chicken Butchering Demo November 10th – Learn, Kill, Eat!

WE Farm chicken slaughter November 9th or 10th!  Holler if you want to help out.  </p><p>We'll teach the skills to carry out your own slaughter/butchering, send you home with a processed chicken for your help, and will make general merriment afterwards.  We start early (7 a.m.) and will work until 1 p.m.Place:  Maple Valley Farm: 3330 W. Maple Grove Rd.
Bloomington, IN 47404
Time:  7 a.m. (ready to go) – 1 p.m. (all clean-up done)
What to Bring: Warm clothes (+ change of clothes), rubber boots, snack, coffee, camera for pics.

We’ll teach the skills to carry out your own slaughter/butchering, send you home with a processed chicken for your help, and will make general merriment afterwards. We start early (7 a.m.) and will work until 1 p.m.  We’ll slaughter ~ 100 chickens and everyone gets the chance to participate in each step from kill to quality control.

Email Josh (josh@wefarmlocal.com) or call at 812.946.1641 to confirm your attendance and if you’re bringing any helpers.
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A Trio of Pork-Centric Experiences Coming to Bloomington in July – CANCELLATIONS

Be Your Own Butcher

“Be Your Own Butcher – The Whole Hog from A-to-Z”

A Trio of Pork-Centric Experiences

Calendar of Events:
•    Sunday, July 1st 4:00 – 8:00 pm – “Be Your Own Butcher” butchering demo at the New wings Kitchen, $150/participant
•    CANCELLED – Monday, July 2nd 5:00pm  – “Connecting Farmers and Chefs Open Discussion”
•    CANCELLED – Tuesday, July 3rd 6:00pm  – Pork-Centric Feast at Restaurant Tallent

See the Full Description

 

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No More Lines To Pull…

Before the clearing. August 2010.

With a sigh, joy in my heart, and hamstrings singing the last staple head finds its rest.

 

No more lines to pull…

Willie Nelson serenades “Pancho and Lefty”, the sky goes crimson, and geese pass by trumpeting over a swamped valley.

After the Clearing - September 2010

No more lines to pull…

 

Lucy dog passes by, a mouth full of splintered stick, on a victory lap to celebrate…..she senses my elation.

No more lines to pull…

With the closing of another season so does the first chapter on this pastures resurrection.

Last Section to Clear - February 2011.

No more lines to pull…

 

I tool it up, pack on home, and see the next task waiting…but I’ll refrain ’til tomorrow.

No more lines to pull…

No More Lines to Pull - February 2011

Tonight I’ll make peace in my mind on a job hard won and WE Farm in the making.

 

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Highlights from Holistic System Workshop

My suspicions were confirmed while attending the Holistic Systems for Farms/Ranches workshop the past day and a half at the ACRES USA conference.  This was a gathering of minds and bodies with stories to tell, insights to gift, and healthy debate to cultivate.  While Laura Beth and I have spent the past few years studying and applying Holistic Management in our lives, we certainly can appreciate the ongoing nature of it’s learning and practice.  Such practice and participation is only made stronger by making the time for these sort of meetings.

Really quick, here are some random, yet profound insights and experience-driven opinions from the discussion between rancher-attendees and rancher-leader:

  • Holism is a requirement for sustainability.
  • There is little chance for sustained profit using input-intensive production methods that use the commodity markets as outlets.
  • Holistic systems require a multi-species livestock community.
  • Don’t plant seeds, manage for what the land, your livestock, and you need; the seeds are already there, just manage to unlock them.  Diversity is key.
  • Massive gains in sustainability, ecosystem function, and business function are achieved on longer time lines than most people are comfortable with (like 10 years).  Remember, “the fastest way to walk a cow is ‘slow’ (thanks M. Connelly.)”
  • “The livestock business is a very simple job, it is our work as stockmen/stockwomen to keep it that way.”
  • Use the tools at your disposal to make life easier, especially with planning and monitoring.  Financial tools like Quickbooks are a lifesaver, but like any tool you have to have a plan for using it.
  • Ruminants only need forage as feed to keep them healthy, improve your resource base, and turn a profit…that’s it.  Know what your animals need, learn how to estimate if your farm is providing it, and learn how to deliver it to them for the best possible results for these three levels.
  • Rest:  “The purpose of a fence is not to keep the livestock in, it is to keep the livestock out of a pasture so that it may rest after grazing.  We don’t fence in livestock, we fence in our forage.”
  • Grazing for an increase in the ecosystem function and the health of your animals is “grazing tall” and “resting long.”  Seed heads are a good thing and so is a 90-dat vacation from grazing for your pastures.
  • In three years time, every square foot of your pasture should have been covered with a cow pat at least once….ratchet up that stock density…a cow produces 27,000 lbs of manure per year, each ton is the same as a fertilizer bag of 12-3-9 (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium).   You need dung beetles, which don’t need Ivomectrin, to put this fertility to good use. Trampled forage is not wasted forage, it is what keeps the soil alive and improving.
  • Hedgerows don’t cost you anything in lost forage production.  They are forage for livestock, habitat for critters that eat forage pests, and shelter and stress reducers for your animals.  Plant some trees/shrubs.
  • Forage is free feed essentially, as it is powered by the sun.  Every percentage point of an animals diet which you can harness from this source, the greater your profitability.  If your profit margin is only 10% on an enterprise, this advantage can be the difference between success and failure.
  • Always reserve “time (grazing days)” in your seasonal grazing plan, not “feed (mechanically harvested hay)”.

I’m sure there are other “pillars of knowledge” we can share, but these are some of the highlights.  I’m off for another day in the classroom and a day of meeting some fine folks.

Cheers,

–Josh

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Warming the Mind, Heart, and Hands for A Pilgrimage

The alarm is off at 5:00 a.m., my mind is not.  I rise, take that first thankful morning sip of coffee.  The delivery of caffeine accelerates thoughts of the pilgrimage I will take to our State’s Capitol later today. The warmth of the cup in my hand gets the fingers working, such heat is psychologically powerful if nothing else.  This cup joins me as a nest into the couch beneath the lamp at 5:30 to think awhile and enjoy these comforts.  In such a state, and on my own in this early hour, I am free to think deeply about all that I may learn while at the ACRES USA conference this week.

ACRES USA, a voice for eco-agriculture, is bringing together some of the worlds finest minds, the nation’s most dedicated practitioners, and many aspiring pupils and curious consumers to discuss the spirit, economy, ecology, and community of the ecological agricultural movement, industry, and lifestyle.  Participating in such things; I pray for a reckoning of sorts.  I fuel my mind this morning by finishing off a too-long effort of reading “Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money”.  Here its author, Woody Tasch, is calling for a reckoning of sorts, by asking us all to reinvent the globalized consumer culture and its economic systems by reorienting all matters of investing, supply chains, and consumerism with the consideration of food, farms, and fertility as its foundation.  He is a keynote speaker on Saturday, and I am glad to have known him through this read prior to our meeting.  It is the sort of read that could cause a dramatic “spin out” if one truly tries to comprehend the violence in our current consumer culture, but for me it is validation that a reckoning is coming and there are many out there stoking its fire.

His call, A Paradigm Shift.  The call is for “the promotion of percolation over circulation, of diversity over monoculture, of relationship over transaction, and of fertility over profitability.”  He calls for “a civilization that does not put its faith in markets at the expense of places.”  His message is neither anti-technology or even anti-speed, but rather adversarial to the sort of confusion and violence that occurs when information, markets, and wealth are severed from nature.  It merely asks for the opportunity to reintroduce culture to a common commitment of conceptualizing innovation, technology, capital, and science as tools to be wielded in the protection and enhancement of food and farms, through the promotion of the slow and the soil.  He asks all of us to support a system that is pro-local, pro-diversity, pro-small….pro-earthworm!  With such a call to arms my mind is abuzz with thoughts of how I might apply this in my own endeavors…at this point what smoldering neurons where stirring at the waking hour have now caught fire.  His words are shaking.  I suite up and head out at daybreak into 15 degree weather to check on our calves.

My hands, feet, and nose are shrouded in frost in little time.  The calves backs are laced with icy crystals and they are bawling as I pass by, my truck dash so stiff with the cold I swear it will fracture like the San Andreas with the first pothole I come to in the road. It does not. I return 10 minutes later with a snow-capped bale of hay; they are glad to see me, as they have wallowed the final remains of their last bale for bedding.  They dive tongue-first into their new prize, pulling tufts of dried fescue in by the mouthful. I go check their water tank.  It is frozen solid.  The fuse that powers the tank heater is out, but nature is little forgiving of such failures.  With a new fuse and few hours of heat, the water will flow again. The calves will take that water, take that hay, and with some time and some good husbandry from us, convert it into food.  Such a situation few get to experience, to misguided others it seems insufferable and cruel to these beasts, but to those of us choosing to slow down and appreciate it, it is actually an incredible miracle.  All flesh is grass, and is so in the most seemingly harsh situations.  I am charged by the notion that I have the privilege to witness the miracle of creating flesh from grass, no from the sun and soil through grass and into beast, so that others might enjoy it as food and add it to their own being.  I am privileged to witness, share, and husband such things.  This appreciations seems the sort of awakening Woody is lining out.  I can not thank you enough.  In supporting our farm, our stewardship, and our family, you in turn support yourselves by making healthy the very community, landscape, body, and mind on which you depend.  I am thankful you care enough to support a farm which is pro-local, pro-diversity, and pro-earthworm! I am comforted by such notions, and my heart is warmed.

I carry with me to the conference, my pilgrimage, this week the warmth brought to my mind, heart, and hands.  With such a great opportunity, I am anxious of all that can be learned, shared, and brought home to make slow, thoughtful, and healthy our farm, food, and fertility so that you may participate too.

I’ll be back with more after the trip.

–Josh

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A Word on “Fitful Farm Musings”

Duck Dodgers in the 21st-and-a-half Century never provided any insights about what it would be like to be a start-up grass-roots farmer in 2010, all we got from Daffy were some funny escapes from hair-covered monsters while jettisoning across the galaxy aboard his spaceship. How could he or anyone else in 1st-half of the 20th Century ever imagine what would be required of young agricultural entrepreneurs in 2010?

They couldn’t imagine it, neither could I. Yet, here I find myself blogging for the first time ever, and about “farming” for God’s sake. What is curious is that my fingers aren’t working so well because of a long day yesterday hand-digging post holes in what seems to have become silt loam concrete at our farm. However, with some crafty execution, some good gloves, and a whole lotta good ol’ fashioned farm-kid grit the posts went in the ground one at a time and like the building of a great dune on grains of sand at a time the fences and the farm’s architecture began to take on a coherent form.

At times, building fences despite all the hard work seems the easy part. It is what our families trained us to do over numerous summer’s work at home. We are emerging into a new era of farming where one still can appreciate, and need, the good knowledge of how to build an h-brace properly, but also the know-how to craft and maintain a good website, set up email contact lists, and share experiences with social media. I think the trick is to be a good farmer by paying attentions, sharing, and experiencing so we can have better relationships with our land, our animals, our families, our customers, our suppliers, our community, and most broadly, the global community. It is a balancing act which requires a diverse skill set and a constant awareness of the balance required in all these different realms.

I titled our blog “Fitful Farm Musings” because we will always strive to think deeply and share our experiences on the farm and with our community as we can, but the communication will be anything less than systematic and scheduled. As on the farm, “you gotta make hay while the sun shines.” Some days the sun will shine and we’ll be out there taking care of business in the field, some mornings over coffee we may have some time to share our thoughts.” We hope you understand and appreciate the “fitfulness” of our sharing. We find it equally exciting to share directly with people, each other, and all the beasts and green things of our farm, so we’ll be spending a great deal of time doing that while away from the computer so that we actually have something interesting to share.

Thanks for your interest in WE Farm. We hope you enjoy our stories and contact us for the chance to build real, meaningful relationships with you as we continue on our way.

Posted in Relationship Farming, UPcycling | Leave a comment